SALINAS, Calif. — Two spinach varieties were among the vegetables grabbing attention at Sakata Seed America’s field days in Salinas.
Grower-shippers, retailers and seed distributors came out to see and taste cool-weather crops including broccoli, beets and Swiss chard Aug. 12-14 in Salinas. Sakata Seed America planned to show melons, tomatoes, peppers, onions, pumpkin and squash at its Woodland research station.
“We’re a broccoli company, so most of the interest here is in that,” said Dan Reno, area sales manager for Santa Maria-Oxnard and carrot product manager for North America, Central America and Mexico. “But lately our excitement is turning a bit to the spinach.”
Two spinach varieties made commercially available in January — Seaside and Riverside — have shown good resistance to powdery mildew and downy mildew whether grown conventionally or organically, Reno said.
Seaside is a faster growing variety suited for transitions at the start or end of a season. Riverside, the main season variety, is the darker green of the two.
“Pretty much everything is contracted, and for the next crop we’ll probably be sold out as well,” he said.
The Salinas field days had about 100 visitors by mid-week, including some from Mexico, Australia, Japan, South Korea and South Africa.
“For South Africa, I was able to talk to them about carrots,” Reno said. “They had some opportunities I didn’t know about because the communication wasn’t there.”
Bakersfield-based Cal-Organic Farms and Grimmway Farms came to see the multicolored Celebration variety of Swiss chard, among other items. Another colored swiss chard, Peppermint, also attracted visitors’ attention.
Sakata Seed America also touted its Merlin beet variety for comparatively higher sugar content, 12% to 15%.
Even though some items displayed have been available for a while, potential clients sometimes don’t hear of them until the field days, Reno said.
Other companies that have come to recent Salinas field days include Ocean Mist Farms and retailers Loblaws, Wal-Mart and Costco.